South Florida is full of transplants.
If we had to guess, we'd say one percent of the population was actually born here. (Also, did you know that 84% of statistics are made up on the spot? True story.)
Quite frankly: we think it's a good thing.
For one thing, the different influences have a positive impact on the diversity of food -- and we don't just mean international cuisine.
On March 8, one of the pioneers of the new Providence, Rhode Island restaurant scene (which is known for being top notch), Bob Higginbotham, is opening a new concept in West Palm Beach.
Bocce Wine Bar & Tapas is bringing modern American fare, craft beer, artisanal cocktails, and boutique wines to the western edge of West Palm.
The concept will focus on small plates and tapas with locally sourced products and a heavy rustic Italian influence.
In addition to an onsite garden, it will feature produce from local purveyors, such as Swank Farms, Kai Kai Farms, Farriss Farms, and Miss V's Organics.
"We're going to do something different out here," says Higginbotham. "Something that the area's not accustomed to. We want to do a modern take on classics; we're going to constantly evolve."
Chef Wade Owens, a Columbia University grad, with double major in english and creative writing, is heading the kitchen.
During his studies Owens spent time in the kitchens of highly lauded New York City establishments, like Bouley by David Bouley; Alto by Scott Conant; and Dani by Don
At Bocce, Owens has put together an experimental menu of small plates, including cherry smoked scallop ($11) with porcini panna cotta, leeks, and black truffles;
Colorado lamb lolly ($16) with black mustard risotto and foraged mushrooms; pizzas and pastas, like simple pizza ($14) made with ugly tomato, mozzarella, and
oregano; bianco pizza ($16), made with cauliflower Béchamel, Taleggio, Homboldt Fog, roasted garlic, and parmesan; and oxtail gnudi ($25) with Arrowhead oxtail, ricotta, horseradish brown butter, parmesan, and basil emulsion; and large plates, such as roasted Lake Meadows guinea hen ($30) with fig mostarda, baby turnips, charred Swiss chard, lavender, and guinea jus.
While Higginbotham is new to South Florida (he relocated to Delray Beach just over a year ago), he's been in the restaurant industry for a long time. The former owner/operator of Providence's Bravo Brasserie, he's known for revitalizing the theatre district of the city.
Bravo received numerous accolades, including Best New Restaurant, Best New
Dish, and Best Place to be Seen from publications like Rhode Island Monthly.
After a short stint in South Beach, Higginbotham moved back to Delray Beach with plans of starting his own consulting company.
He was originally chatting with the owners of DiSalvio's Trattoria about taking a consulting contract, but the owners decided they wanted out. The conversation turned into a discussion of Higginbotham buying off their assets.
"You don't have to go looking for things," says Higgonbotham. "Sometimes things just happen."
Bocce Ball Wine Bar & Tapas is located at1760 N Jog Rd #180 in West Palm Beach. Call 561-275-7000, or visit boccewinebar.com.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.